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The Role of Indigenous Medicinal Plants in Ethiopian Healthcare

Fekadu Fullas, RPh, PhD

berries are used as a molluscicidal agent to help arrest the spread of the infection by disrupting the transmission cycle.
3. Metere (Glinus lotoides): Of more than 2 dozen plants that are known to be used for tapeworm infestation (taeniasis), recently metere seems to have received more chemical and biological investigations. The taenicidal activity of the plant has been attributed to its saponin constituents. The plant has also been shown to be relatively safe and effective.
4. Gizawa (Withania somnifera): In Ethiopia, this plant is used for joint infection, arthritis, and malaria. Studies have shown that it indeed exhibits antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and antimalarial activities. These findings are in support of similar uses of the plant in Ethiopian traditional medicine.
5. Gulo zeit (Ricinus communis): Among other uses of the plant, the oil from the seeds is used in Ethiopia as a purgative to soften the digestive tract. Castor oil is commonly used in modern medicine to cleanse the gut prior to medical procedures. It is no wonder then that the oil from this plant is used in Ethiopian traditional medicine as a purgative.
6. Bahr zaf (Eucalyptus spp.): Although there are over 55 species of Eucalyptus  in Ethiopia, Eucalyptus globulus is the most abundant species. Apart from its immense economic utility, Eucalyptus is also used as a medicinal agent. The vapor obtained from boiling the leaves is inhaled as a common household remedy to treat common cold symptoms. In conventional medicine, the oil obtained from the leaves is used to make ointments and cough preparations.

    The above few examples go to show clearly that the uses of a number of Ethiopian medicinal plants are supported by scientific studies, or parallel uses in modern medicine. There is also a vast botanical resource yet to be investigated for possible application in enhanced traditional medicine.
Future Prospects

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    It is obvious that Ethiopian medicinal plants are a rich source of many remedies. In a country where modern health services are out of  reach for about 80% of the population, these plants provide an alternative ammunition to fight a number of diseases. Even with the future expansion of modern health services to cover the underserved section of the population, it is quite conceivable that, if properly harnessed, botanical remedies can provide a complementary source to modern medication supply. In order to ensure their sustainability, Ethiopian medicinal plants need to be conserved, lest they be endangered and eventually be extinct as a result of unbridled deforestation and natural calamities. A sound conservation program aimed at preserving this rich biota is a pre-requisite. Along with such a program, the foundation of a light modern botanical products industry needs to be laid down. Policy makers need to provide legislative and infra-structural support to entrepreneurs who may wish to invest in businesses to develop medicinal plant products.
    That Ethiopia has a vast resource of medicinal plants is incontrovertible. The question is how to streamline this resource for the benefit of not only those people who do not have access to modern medicines, but also for those also who fail on conventional medications, or those, who for economic reasons opt for local products which can potentially be as effective. As shown in the examples above, there are botanical remedies which are indeed effective, but which can be standardized and produced in modern dosage forms such as liquids, tablets, ointments. For this to materialize, a concerted effort is required by scientists and entrepreneurs, along with governmental legislative and infra-structural support. If this is realized, then it will obviously earn foreign exchange savings for the country, in addition to opening up new economic opportunities for investors. As a result, Ethiopian scientists  (botanists, agriculturalists, chemists, pharmacologists, clinicians, and other researchers) will also be motivated to engage in applied and impact-driven research in this untapped virgin field. The potential contribution of enhanced Ethiopian medicinal products to the healthcare of the population, and derivatively to the economy of the country is indeed enormous.
Key References:

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View Comments
Date:Feb 14, 2013
Please tell me what we call in Ethiopia "Water cress seeds"

Yonas Abesha
Date:Feb 14, 2013
Great finding

getachew alemu
Date:Feb 04, 2013
I went to make a future film on tradetional medicn and I collect alot of information it incloud yours. thank uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Date:Jan 29, 2013
- Woohooo! Happy 1st day of spring! I love the vertaiy of your work! Your portraits are captivating and your floral/natural pictures are so beautifully composed. I will check you out often and I wish you a lovely spring.

Date:Nov 20, 2012
Actually i referring one book but i'm not sure whheter it is similar to yours or not name as New! Gardening Indoors Its really Combines the basics of gardening and electrical lighting into an outstanding easy-to-read book This newly revised edition book will give you a simple and complete description of both basic and advanced indoor gardening techniques that gardeners worldwide employ to achieve garden fresh produce and ornamentals year-round. Packed full of pictures illustrations and explanations on such topics as lighting soil nutrients hydroponics and atmospheric control.

damtew gashawbeza
Date:May 08, 2012
we have to work to promote ethiopian indiginious knowledge of medicinal plants globally and have to preserve it .

Solomon Tekle-London
Date:May 08, 2012
Dear Dr Fekadu Your rlentless contribution and strong affilation did help for those who do research and work on Ethiopian Medicinal Plant. You always inspire me with your detailed informative articles and further I harvested a lot from your direction. Thank you for that please keep on giving the world what Ethiopia bear in her land. A lot more to learn from. Thank you Dr Fekadu.

Date:May 08, 2012
I agree with you about having a lot more escpert for someone who at least has adopted domestically themselves if they are expressing those strong views in favor of domestic adoption only. Every child needs a family! And I believe that there is a family for every child. So some are meant to adopt domestically some internationally some black some white some asian I do think *generally* that perhaps some people dismiss their calling in favor of something they perceive as better or easier especially in the case of children with black skin. You have to call that one just by the statistics. But I try very hard to never try to judge whether any *individual* is doing the right thing in their adoption choices. Who am I to judge that?? I am glad if a child finds a healthy home and family.

Date:May 08, 2012
it is a nice paper even u have used articles which can not easily accessed. if u have papers which are related to herbal medicine pls mail me thru stargebretsadik@yahoo.com

Fekadu Fullas
Date:May 08, 2012
Thank you all for the positive comments. Regarding the subject of Ethiopian medicinal plants in the past several years I have put out four books (in print and CD versions) which are now available at Aritiherbal.com in Addis Ababa. Those interested may want to check out the website to inquire more about these books.

Date:Sep 10, 2011
it it good information to good ethiopian

Date:Jan 04, 2011
As per the information the many medicinal plants of Ethiopia have not been studied scientifically so far. It is needed by the govt to take move and establish center for medicinal plant research so in future people of Ethiopia will not be deprived of their natural system of curing various aliments.

Tegenu Gelana
Date:Dec 10, 2010
It is nice to have such information in order to do a good research paper now i am on the ways of doing my thesis on the antimicrobial of some Ethiopian medicinal plan.If you have any relevant literature please help me with gelanategenu@yahoo.com

Ayanaw Worku
Date:Dec 10, 2010
an intersting article keep it up. I am intersted to do research concerning histological changes of certain body parts ie toxicity on liver and kidney due to these traditional medicines. call 0913472003

Date:Nov 21, 2010
Thanks and keep it up. It is very informative

Date:Oct 29, 2010
Ethiopia is rich in almost everything but lacking an Ethiopian government caring for the country and its people. I am afraid useful plants will be lost in indiscriminate lease of land to foreigners whose main interest is short term and quick profit. some of the Ethiopians killed by DERG and Woyane would have been great scientists who might be useful for their people and country.

Sintayehu Fekadu
Date:Oct 14, 2010
Yes we Ethiopians have many indigenous medicinal plants and I hope for the future Ethiopia become the sole source of world major medicine. To realize these intention all of us work on CONSERVATION of these future best bullets.

Date:Oct 09, 2010
Thank u i was working on my project and i got so many informations its good for students like for more more knowledge thank u keep it up. 0920803212

Date:Oct 01, 2010
God bless you and keep you safe for your work. You give me great joy in your findings and please fight to keep the biodiversity in the hands of the people and to keep the soil fertile and organic.

Segewkal Hawaze
Date:Sep 15, 2010
Bravo good work keep it up! I'm planning to do screening test for some of our traditional plants starting from october therefore if you have any relevant litrature; I 'll be glad if you can send me some of them e-mail sigwkal@yahoo.com Thank you

Date:Sep 03, 2010
very interesting!! I'm a researcher at PARC Ethiopia and Coordinating the research entiteled "community partesipatory collection conservation and genetic diversity study of medcinal plants in Gumuze-Shenasha community" pawe

Abdulfeta Nesro
Date:Sep 01, 2010
hi I'm from bahir dar university i read you're book and it is best keep it up!! since i read you're book I'm eager to work my research entitled on 'the indigenous medicine in Ethiopia' so pleas help me to find related articles thank you by my e-mail is yosefget@yahoo.com

Date:May 25, 2010
This is a nice article with short and precise information in it. Thanks

Tena Regasa
Date:May 01, 2010
I did my Msc on Ethnomedicine of Limu people western eEthiopia. I want to proceed my further study in the same field. Address: ten_regasa@yahoo.com. Tel. 0917814745

wuletaw zeleke
Date:Mar 30, 2010
that is great help me to do research on traditional plant which having antimicrobal effect . call 091-1737141

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